HOW DOES it DRIVE?                                - Translation by Eef Sluiter from Amsterdam

              FANTASTIC                                                                                                     UPDATE: 09-02-08  ver. 4



If you drive the Ro 80 for the first time, it is recommended to take a co-driver with you who is familiar with the Ro 80. Start as soon as possible driving the highway (motorway) and hit the floor. You will fall in love right away. –the acceleration is enorm, especially between 80 and 140km/ph. You will be pushed into the chair and nobody can keep up with you. As far as you know this suppose to be a classic car.. high speeds for long times, no problems. The webmaster started at 09.30 in Luzern (Swiss) and at 16.15 he was home (Nijmegen) The Netherlands. That is really fast. With that speed it is possible to visit an INTERNATIONAL TREFFEN. (at the bottom of the page you will find some photo’s of that drive). Long distances are a joy to drive with the Ro 80. But it is certainly not for driving in town, this because of the fuel-consumption.  

LOW NOISE  Because of the extreme low Cw value of 0,355 driving the Ro 80 is a very low noise driving experience. The non-vibration engine is very pleasant, the faster you go the less noise within the car will be.
It sounds like a turbine some people will say. A small problem with the front doors will give a whistling noise, because the windows do not close as it should be. But normally there is inside the car a royal silence.  

Starting is quite normal: just turn the key and the engine starts. Driving the front wheel driven NSU Ro 80 is for most of us a matter of learning. This is because of the semi-automatic gearbox. If you look at it as a manual automat, 3 forward 1 return a neutral and a parking. This are not really gears, but driving values and they are very long, because of the high refs of the engine.

A clutch pedal is missing and if you go from first to second or third a sensor on the shifter will do the clutch automatic! That is a matter of getting use to it, because the moment your hand is on the shifter there is no connection between the engine and the differencial. A sort of tiptronic so to speak.

The first “gear” will pickup very easily  because of the semi-automatic gearbox and torque converter and the Ro 80 start rolling like a train slowly but accelerating and you needs to shift late and then the next gear will fall in. The torque converter will prevent you from running on too high revs in the first gear. Because of the torque converter it sounds like the clutch is slippery and the revs will go higher and higher without accelerating speed in the same way.

You can, if you want,  be a very lazy driver almost without shifting driving this wonderful car . You can start in the 2nd  and then 3th and keep it. The 2nd is a long gear to set the car in motion and drive up till about 120 k/ph. After this it seems a difficult car to drive, but after 5 minutes you get the hang of it and do not want to drive otherwise.

TIP Never let your hand on the shifter: It results in a highly noisy engine. If you are driving  a “normal” car you use to have the hand on the shifter before really shifting. Do not do so with a Ro 80: the same time you touch the shifter, there is no connection between engine and drive unit. It is also unusual to shift by hand, because the Ro 80 makes sounds as if you have a complete automatic gear.

The car is fast but not really sportive those are the characteristics of the Ro 80. The Ro 80 does not invite to race, but you can if you want to. The second gear goes beyond 100 km/ph and that is nice if you want to overtake slower traffic. On the highway the shifter will be in third and you are able to drive at high speed for a very long time. Downshift is sometimes going very slow. Setting the shift-valve is then necessary. The third gear is too long and you have to shift down to overtake.

The rev.counter on the left side has hard-green markings (only the newer types) given and gives in what the Wankel is using the lowest amount of petrol. If the needle is constant between 2000 and 3500 revs. the petrol-consumption will be at the lowest.Who is going up to 4500 revs. will not use a lot more petrol but as you all know the Wankel-engine is not very economic with fuel. There is an average of about 8km/ltr. The Ro 80 can also run on LPG (liquid Petrol Gas) but the lubrication must then be very good.


The road holding of the Ro 80 is extremely good. Glued to the road so to speak. We know the car was introduced in 1967 and the German mechanical engineers where truly ahead of there time and be an escaple for there collegues. The long wheelbase and the all independent suspention (image left) says enough. The Ro 80 was revolutionary and not only because of enginetechnics and design. There was also good tyers the fabulous Michelin X-as, wich gave the car its roadholding.

When you drive with your eyes closed, you would imagen driving a almost new car and not in a design of 35 years ago. The steering is very pleasant and precise. The steering part was an example for most contructors in the field of motoring and was mentioned in a lot of car-books over the years. Ok driving a highspeed corner the car rolls over, but it will give the driver still control over the car. By the way: how about cars build in 2002? Will they not do the same? If the Ro 80 is at the end of her possibilities, it will glide over the frontwheels away. But if you install a set of Koni’s or Boge’s she will not glide over anyway.

  • The Ro 80 is a very comfortable car. Bumps in the road will hardly be felt and the car is not really that soft  Specially the final construction and the love for detail makes it possible to start a long ongoing relationship. Lovers of topdesign and technical highstands will have there part. A very nice combination.

  • The space behind the driver is big and you can compaire it with a modern car such as a Passat or Vel- Satis..sorry Safrane. The trunk is also extreme large even with a LPG tank in it the is plenty of space left. You have lots of points where you can put safetybelts.



The rims-most Ro 80 drivers prefer Fuchs-aluminium design=Porsche 911= have good long suspension travel but not that loose and will never be “wobbelly” . Of course the long wheelbase is a contribution to a lot of comfort. But most of all the stability of the car will impress. It does not matter how high the speed that is driven with the car, the car will follow the trail as you drive it. The powersteering is a technical highlight and dispite the powersteering you still have the feeling that you drive and steer the car and not the other way around. The powersteering is not as powerfull as the Citroen CX. Did you know that the hydraulic parts for the powersteering was made by the famous company ZF??

All those people who think the Ro 80 is a real classic car, we must disappoint you it is a very up to date design and takes the credit being ahead of her time. Well ok when you slide behind the wheel it smells old. By the way, the lady on the left side is braking very good as well.

The brakes discs all around give you the same safety feeling. Without much force the brakes will bring the car to a safe stop, but starting from a high speed, the nose of the car will go down but not that extreme. One of our members would say” she brakes like an elephant. All in all the Ro 80 gives the impression of being a very balanced car in all aspects.  

Left: In Italy in a small town, small streets, do not drive to slow. You see here how to drive 180 k/ph in a trail not to touch left or right. Restaurant-owners are getting the creeps.




On the way back from an international NSU meeting in Zurich in 2001 we (HARTOG-HULLEGIE) overtaken by a German Ro 80, last type. We where driving around 140 k/ph and that was not quick enough for the German friends. They drove a short time behind us and than the overtook us very quickly with about 160. We followed them and at 180 it was even then hard to follow them. During 90 minutes we drove behind the gentlemen until our pads separated and we finally(!) Please look at the pictures below.

There it comes... You wil not see it often: a Ro 80 catches up with another one. We are going to the left and our follower drives through. He passes us, we can  read the numbers at the back now.
We are following that car at high speed.-Who knows the who is the owner of that car -WST TV 37-? You can drive relaxt with the Ro 80 An other close-up of the 'speedmeter', here 150 km/h but it went much faster.


 This is the same car as above , i still do not know who the owner is


   Above a nice motorcompartiment

  Not too fast!